Jan 15, 2006


Anonymous said...

I was currious to see what type of games you created, but as a board game designer, you have no board games that you describe or that we can try out. This could be a good idea. (At least you'd get yourself known)

My concern here is that I don't know how much I can describe my games without ruining their marketability. Although it is more than a little narcissistic to think this, I also fear my ideas being taken by another designer if they're posted in a public forum like this. For some reason I think they're good enough to steal even though no company has yet said they're good enough to sell.

Are there any designers out there who can shed some light on this topic? Is it a good idea to air out your prototypes publicly? How much should you talk about them in the interest of generating a name for yourself?


  1. The answer is: don't worry about it. Publishers are so glutted with game proposals and ideas that it is highly unlikely that anyone will wantt o go through the trouble of stealing an idea. Ideas are a nickel for a thousand. The only thing that counts is a working protoype.


  2. Okay, but there must be some point at which I've said too much, no? Or can I pretty much post infinite detail and it likely won't be a problem.

  3. Pretty much infinite, generally, unless the mechanism or expression is so obviously unique, amazing and workable that it can be stolen with almost no effort.

    Even then consider this:

    - There is likely no more than a handful of people in the entire world who would actually steal a boardgame idea.

    - If you publicize it enough so that everyone knows its your idea, then people would know it was stolen from you. OTOH, remember that virtually every idea has been thought of and is indevelopement as we speak, so don't assume that something similar to what you invented was stlen, only if its virtually identical, and even then.

    - Despite the fact that you have no real legal claim to a stolen idea, courts would look favorably as to awarding compensation.

    And remember the following:

    Copyright: covers only the expression of an idea, NOT the idea. If you take Settelrs of Catan, change the rules and artwork, you can legally publish it.

    Patent: is a long legal process that takes years, costs thousands of dollars, and only covers unique mechanisms or processes that are original and non-intuitive. Just about no board games bother, except for, say, the mousetrap in Mousetrap.

    Trademark: only protects your name to avoid consumer confusion, again, doesn't protect an idea.

    But, to repeat, thousands of great games are sitting and waiting to be devloped by companies who don't even have the manpower to test and create all of these. Why would someone spend thousands of dollars and months of work to produce something from a nobody who has an idea that hasn't been developed or playtested. You can't GIVE your ideas away in this business.

    NOTE: I am not a lawyer, so my advice is worth what you paid for it.

    If you really want to design games, head over to www.bgdf.com and the boardgamedesign yahoo groups and start reading all the material.


    P.S. And have a look at my blog. Many past entries talk about my own game design travails.

  4. Thank you, I will take a look.

  5. Anonymous6:46 AM

    If you post about your games and get feedback on how to improve them, what works and what doesn't, from visitors, you can improve your games, no matter how good they are currently.

    Improving your games means you are more likely to see them in print someday.

    It also involves a small chance of someone stealing one of your ideas that would otherwise have been published, but as Yehuda points out, this is a tiny tiny chance.

    So - if you are absolutely certain that a given game is the best you'll ever ever write, and bound to be a worldwide bestseller, you might want to keep it under wraps.

    Otherwise doing so will only lower the chances of any of your games ever seeing publication.